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February 14, 2011

Bali has local version of ‘Valentine’s Day

Ni Komang Erviani, The Jakarta Post, Denpasar , Bali 

The romantic mood of Valentine’s Day is in the air, as malls in Bali are adorned with love-themed decorations. Shops offer dolls, chocolate and flowers to local youths hunting for special gifts for their loved ones.

“I want to buy a Valentine gift for my girlfriend,” 16-year-old Kadek Adi Artawan said.

The western tradition of celebrating Valentine’s Day has become a trend among Balinese youths, many of whom might not be familiar with Tumpek Klurut, the Balinese version of Valentine’s Day.

Celebrated once every six months, Tumpek Klurut falls on the Saniscara Wuku Klurut day on the Balinese calendar.

Tumpek Klurut originated from the word Tumpek, or Tumapek, and Klurut. Tumpek means bringing one’s self closer to God, while Klurut means affection.

Tumpek Klurut means bringing one’s self closer to the Creator by showing affection to all.

“Tumpek Klurut teaches us to love not only humans, but all of God’s creatures,” said Hindu high priest Ida Pedanda Sebali Tianyar Arimbawa.

The day is also called odalan gong — the anniversary of musical instruments — as the day is believed to be the right day to tune instruments.

There are no special ceremonies on Tumpek Klurut, but Hindu adherents usually perform prayers in merajan (household temples).

“The essence of Tumpek Klurut lies within ourselves. It is how we show affection to our surroundings,” Ida Pedanda Sebali Tianyar said.

One special thing on Tumpek Klurut day is the inclusion of two small tumpeng (horn-shaped boiled rice) in the daily offerings.

The two tumpeng symbolize purusha (man) and pradana (woman) — two powers that exist in every human being.

“We should be able to balance those two powers so that our lives could be balanced,” Ida Pedanda Sebali Tianyar said.

Although the Valentine’s Day celebration originated in western culture, it is not forbidden for Hindus, the priest said.

“Hindu is very flexible. No problem, as long as [the celebration] teaches us to be a better person.”

Some people are also cashing in on the Valentine celebration, including I Ketut Widana, who runs a chocolate business.

He said he received more orders for heart-shaped chocolates over the two weeks preceding the celebration.

“I get 100 orders per day, which is quite a lot. Although Valentine’s Day is not our tradition, it has become part of Balinese youth culture,” said the owner of Magic Chocolate manufacturer.

The celebration of Valentine’s Day is reportedly better known among local youths than Tumpek Klurut.

Kadek Adi Artawan said he knew nothing about the essence of Tumpek Klurut, except that it is celebrated once every six months.

“This happens because all of this time we only perform the religious ceremony without understanding the meaning. This should be our wake up call,” said Ida Pedanda Sebali Tianyar
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A story of romantic love

Prodita Sabarini, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta | 
Sweet Valentine: Baker Emily Jones decorates chocolate hearts at the Lake Champlain Chocolates factory in Burlington, Vermont, on Feb. 11.AP/Toby Talbot 
Sweet Valentine: Baker Emily Jones decorates chocolate hearts at the Lake Champlain Chocolates factory in Burlington, Vermont, on Feb. 11.AP/Toby TalbotFor many, February is the month of romance.

Valentine’s Day on Feb. 14th gives people a momentum to celebrate love and express it to their object of affection.
The classic formula to mark the occasion usually includes a romantic dinner for two, red roses, chocolate, candy and a greeting card. For those with more money to spend, a holiday getaway and jewelry might come into the picture.
Those skeptical of the day’s hype might refuse to partake in the consumerist frenzy, saying that love should be celebrated on any day of the year. Romantics, who love the special occasion, meticulously plan their activities on Valentine’s Day. And there are those who don’t mind being given a reason to be romantic.
But for every type of person holding different opinions on Valentine’s Day, romantic love is more than
dinner and gifts. It is the one drug that everyone loves — as long as it lasts. It gives people energy, sparks creativity, and makes a besotted person incredibly focused on one’s object of affection.
Romantic love is a great motivator and a muse for art. The many poems dedicated to love is testament to that. Love drives people to go the extra mile. The fear of loosing love and jealousy can drive people to the worst of actions, from stalking to murder.
Beyond kowtowing to the demands of a commercialized Valentine’s Day, The Jakarta Post asked people what they did when driven by this intense emotion, and what their perception of romantic love was.
Most answered they wanted an everlasting relationship. A happily married mother of one said love was an illusion, referring to the roles of dopamine and serotonin in our brains. Others say they believe in love in a metaphysical manner. And an editor-cum-artist dreams of a noncommittal everlasting love.
The feisty, 25-year-old Bali-based editor Annisa Dharma said romance or the feeling of infatuation drives her to “assemble beautiful words that woo”. It had also driven her to make what she called “grand gestures”.
“I’ve moved countries for a boy. I’ve made a song for a boy. I’ve created art for a boy. I’ve let go of my ambition for a boy,” she said.
Annisa said her actions were driven by romance.
“I think romance is more of a language. Romance and love don’t go hand in hand,” she said.
“Personally, I can’t be romantic to someone I truly love, and likewise, when I don’t love a person, I can be the most romantic person ever.”
However if she really loves someone, she would not do anything to hurt or harm herself. “Because I’d trust them with all my heart,” she said.
Annisa added she would want love to last forever. “Thus, no commitments…Free and liberating.”
She however would not mind getting married “if I found the right one, in which the relationship didn’t change regardless of the married status. That would mean getting married purely as an act of romance… which is fine,” she said.
For 28-year-old Yolanda Nirmala, love has such a powerful effect on her it made her think twice
about her religion and chose to live without it. She said she found peace as an agnostic.
“Would it make any sense to you if I told you that being in love once led to me being agnostic? That’s how powerful love is in my life,” she said.
Coming from a conservative Muslim family, Yolanda fell in love with a man who had a Catholic upbringing. She was in her early 20s, in college; meanwhile, her partner was in his early thirties.
Their families disapproved of their relationship because they came from different faiths. They continued to date in secret for fear of being separated.
She and her partner devised a plan to elope to Singapore and live abroad. They started to save up money for their planned future together.
During this time, she started to question religion.
“I started to lose my faith in religion. I started to ask myself: ‘What is the point of religion have if it used to hate other people?’ Because of a different religion, one can hate and stay away from others?”
Life sent her on another path, Yolanda said, as her boyfriend was killed in a car accident in their two years of relationship.
“I was sad as sad can be. But the thing that didn’t die with him, was me being an agnostic,” she said. “I don’t feel there is a strong reason to fit in boxes that separate people.”
For 29-year-old Ramdan Sudrajat, love has made him do things he never imagined he could do.
“I cleaned my girlfriend’s father’s behind when he was ill after having a stroke,” he said.
“I even surprised myself. I have never even seen my own father naked. That’s the power of love,” he said.
The relationship with his girlfriend eventually fizzled. That was around 2006 he said, and he was over it.
“Failure is normal. Even though I regret the decision to break up. I still remember her as a part of the story of my life,” he said.
“I think love is when you put your trust and hope in someone whom you wish to be your life companion and who will be by your side until you get old,” he said.
While Ramdan is looking to forge a lasting relationship soon, Yolanda said she was not in a rush and was looking for a mature relationship, with a solid long-term plan. “If a guy says sweet things to me such as ‘I like you’ or something similar, until he proves it I would say it’s bulls**t,” she said. And until she finds that love, she is happy with casual dates.
Maria Ferrari, 33, a mother and a singer, has a very rational perspective on romantic love. She believes it is an illusion, and the emotion comes from a combination neurotransmitters in the brain.
“In reality, [most] humans whether they realize it or not are self-centered,” she said. “For me, the deepest and craziest [thing one can do] for ‘love’ is to keep it unspoken.”
She believes a committed relationship occurs when two people agree to want to “know” their partners.
“The ‘want’ is full of conflict. And often it becomes a drama, just like a serial movie or sinetron,” she said. Maria added there was no time frame in getting to know one’s partner. “Because humans are dynamic,” she went on.
Despite her rational perspective, Maria enjoys being infected with the emotions.
“Being high and low is exciting. Because [sometimes] that is what people look for. So life doesn’t feel that bland,” she said.
Scientists have explained love through neuroscience. A professor of Neuroscience in Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, Larry Young. wrote in scientific journal Nature, that love could be explained by a series of neurochemical events in a specific area of the brain. From his research Young finds that oxytocin levels in the brain may enhance humans ability to form trusting relationships.
Meanwhile anthropologist Helen Fisher states that different neurotransmitters such as testorerone, dopamine, serotonin and oxytocin have roles in the phases of romantic love, which are lust, attraction and attachment. In her articles, Fisher wrote that when someone faces rejection, the body goes into protest and also a renewed passion that she coined “frustration attraction”, which results from the prolong effect of dopamine.
To cope with all the highs and lows of love, Maria suggested being conscious of all these emotions.
Taking advice from meditation teacher, she said: “Consciously enjoy everything, and observe”.

 Happy New year 2011
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